pH and acidity – their difference and importance in vinegar

Reginald SmithAll About Vinegar, Making Vinegar91 Comments

Burette and Ring Stand (courtesy: Wikimedia)

Those who know vinegar know acidity is of prime importance in measuring the completion and strength of vinegar. Acetic acid is what distinguishes vinegar and global standards of taste and safety specify minimum acidity levels for vinegar. The more widely recognized measurement of the strength of an acid (or base) is the pH scale. Many people know pH is important for controlling microbes and a maximum level of 4 (under 3.7 is better) is required for any application where rogue microbes could cause issues in food or sauce preservation. Please note you should consult local and FDA regulations as well as acidified food guidelines before settling on a pH and water activity for any preserved food.

The most easily measured value is pH. Everything from $10 meters to professional meters like my own that are hundreds of dollars can be used to give an instant pH reading. Acidity measurements are more technical and careful. The typical method is titration using a strong base like sodium hydroxide (NaOH) to determine the percent acid in vinegar. Percent acid is defined as the number of grams of acetic acid per 100 mL of vinegar. So the 5% vinegar you buy in the store has 5 g of acetic acid per 100 mL (or 50g per L). Vinegar makers occasionally use the term ‘grain’ which is just the acidity multiplied by 10 so 5% acidity is 50 grain.

Many people default to pH to see how done their vinegar is given the difficulty of measuring acidity which requires specialized chemicals and lab equipment like a burrette and ring stand. There are also basic chemistry calculations required that, while not difficult, can be daunting for some. For measuring the basic progress of vinegar and its microbial safety, pH is acceptable. However, for using homemade vinegar for canning and for selling vinegar commercially, pH can be deceptive and even dangerous.

First, canning requires a minimum recommended acidity (typically 5%) because the dilution of the vinegar in recipes still requires a minimum level of acid. Remember pH is a logarithmic scale. An acid pH of 3 is 10 times more acidic than that of a pH of 4.Vinegar only measured by pH risks being too low in acidity and can be diluted too much which is dangerous for canning where preventing botulism and other bugs is paramount. As will be explained later, pH cannot replace acidity because the pH can vary widely for different types of vinegar of the same acidity.

To understand their difference, let’s look at how they are calculated. Warning – chemistry ahead.

First pH. An acid is a chemical compound that contains a positive charged hydrogen ion (H+) combined with a negative charged so-called “conjugate base”. In water, both parts dissociate and the H+ concentration is what defines pH. The H+ ion, combines loosely with water to make an ion called Hydronium H30+ whose concentration is often used in lieu of H+ in equations and pH calculations.

The formula for acetic acid is CH3COOH and CH3COO is the conjugate base.

For acetic acid, dissociation in H2O yields

CH3COOH + H2O → CH3COO + H30+

Now all of the reactants (left side) and products (right side) have equilibrium concentrations in the solution. The concentration of a chemical, in terms of moles/liter, is designated with square brackets. So the concentration of acetic acid is [CH3COOH]. At standard temperature (25 C) and pressure (1 atm) the equilibrium constants for acid dissociation (acid dissociation constant) Ka determines the relative concentrations in equations like the below:

Ka = [CH3COO][H30+]/[CH3COOH]

Ka is usually calculated to neglect the water in the reactants. The pH is the negative logarithm (base 10) of the H30+ concentration, pH=-log10 [H30+]. You often see Ka shown as pKa where pKa =-log10Ka. For acetic acid, Ka and pKa are 1.76 x 10-5 and 4.75 respectively at standard temperature and pressure.

So for example, let’s take 5% acetic acid like the standard grade sold in retail stores. 50 g per liter of acetic acid where the molar mass of acetic acid is 60 g means these vinegars are 0.83M (M stands for molar or moles/liter). Given Ka and the fact that 1 mole of CH3COOis generated per mole of H30+ in the reaction we can see that the concentration [H30+] is 3.8 x 10-3 M and pH should be 2.4.

On the other hand, when you mesaure acidity you are titrating vinegar with a base until you find out what volume of base makes all the acetic acid disappear. The H30+ concentration or acid dissociation constant has little relevance except in how fast the titration occurs.

So why aren’t they interchangeable in some nifty formula? Here is the deal: take two different acids with the same acidity in g/100 mL. So 5% vinegar and 5% hydrochloric acid (HCl). First, their pH levels are different because 1) the molar mass of each acid is different so their molar concentrations vary at the same acidity and 2) their acid dissociation constants vary so different amounts of [H30+] come out in equilibrium.

But there are still complications even if we have the same acid, as in different types of vinegar. I know you are saying, “OK acidity and pH aren’t the same and pH varies for different acids but a pH of 2.4 is equivalent to a 5% acidity acetic acid, right?”

Well, not quite. Even though white distilled vinegar approaches this pH level at 5%, no vinegar gets that low. The main reason is most natural vinegars have many other compounds in the vinegar, including organic acids and other exotic compounds. Some even have small amounts of bases (for example many fruits) and these help increase the ‘buffering capacity’ of the vinegar. A buffer is a mixture of an acid and its conjugate base in proportions that resist pH changes with added acid or base. Finally, there is a reaction called esterification where the acetic acid reacts with leftover ethyl alcohol in the vinegar to form flavor chemicals called esters. The main one is ethyl acetate and this is present in all vinegars. The small levels of other organic acids like formic acid and tartaric acid (in grapes) also form their own esters. These reactions consume acetic acid. This isn’t a bad thing since the amount is usually not large and the development of esters in the aging process helps make vinegar less sharp.

So what you end up seeing are pH levels that are wildly different for vinegars of the same acidity. White distilled vinegar of 5% can range from a pH of 2.5 to 2.7 on average. Pineapple vinegar ranges from 2.8 to 2.9. Red and white wine vinegar can be low, 2.6 to 2.8 but this is helped by the other acids like tartaric acid from grapes. The highest is apple cider vinegar which is typically 3.3 to 3.5 at 5%. It is also one of the chemically more complex vinegars.

So the bottom line is pH and (titratable) acidity both have importance but are not interchangeable or even predictable across vinegars. If you are making the same vinegar from roughly the same raw material over and over, there may be a relation that can be worked out but it will be hard to generalize. So if you are doing canning with home vinegar, make sure you measure the acidity yourself or send it to a local wine lab or university food lab for measurement. Definitely if you want to sell your vinegar you have a legal requirement to make sure the acidity exceeds 4%.

91 Comments on “pH and acidity – their difference and importance in vinegar”

  1. Thank you so much! I am living in China at the moment and I bought a bottle of white vinegar concentrate. Had no idea what 30g/100ml meant. This was the perfect explaination!

    1. Thanks! Be careful when handling 30% vinegar though. Wear gloves since if it gets in your eyes or a cut it will BURN!

  2. Thank you so much! But i don’t know that can we drink pineapple vinegar. and how much pH of that product? Thanks!

    1. Is it our pineapple vinegar? That is 5% acidity with a pH of about 2.7. I wouldn’t drink more than 1 tablespoon at a time.

      1. What do you mean 1tbsp? Do you mean 1tbsp mixed with water and what quantity of water,if I may ask?

        1. I was referring to a tablespoon of pure vinegar. You can dilute it to taste with water if you’d like.

      1. Titration is the only way to get reliable results. You can use wine titration kits. Even though the base (sodium hydroxide) is weaker, just add 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar to reduce the concentration by 10x, measure the acidity with the wine kit, and then multiply this by 10 to get your vinegar acidity.

  3. Thank you for such an interesting article! We did a food chemistry practical at university, and one of our questions is to analyze the acetic acid content of filtered apple cider vinegar with no preservative, apple cider vinegar with preservative, apple cider vinegar unfiltered and balsamic vineger. How can the presence of a preservative affect the acetic acid content? And how does it affect pH? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Emma, the presence of preservatives does not affect the acidity (acetic acid content determined by titration). It can affect the pH since the pH depends on many factors besides just the acid concentration. If the preservative–often sulfites or for wine vinegar, sorbic acid from potassium sorbate–create a small buffering effect, you can see the pH differ slightly, usually lower. However, the differences should not be huge. Unfiltered vinegar often has a lower pH since compounds which can create buffers are removed in filtering. Balsamic vinegar can have a higher acidity, around 6%, than apple cider which is typically 5%. I hope this helps.

    1. I would use 5%. It provides the right acidity and is not too strong or too weak to provide preservative actions.

  4. I hated organic chemistry ,physical chemistry, even basic. Never got it. Still don’t understand the periodic table.

    But at 67 I totally understood your “chemistry ahead” explanation.

    Something must have stuck in there from 1974!!!!

    Thanks. Well done!!

    1. Pls for a layman’s chemistry, how much water can I mix with my DIY apple cider vinegar (375ml) I did?

      1. What is the starting acidity of your apple cider vinegar? What final acidity are you trying to achieve?

  5. Hey, thanks so much for the article. I skimmed thru the chem part though…

    I make vinegars at home, all kinds, but mostly the base is from kombucha that has been secondary fermented and has gone past my preferred level of sweetness. I then add a piece of the mother to it and wait. It’s amazing, and I have all kinds of flavors.

    My question for you is how do I dilute them, to give them away to friends? Can I do this with filtered water, and without equipment? I’m sure I have a ph garden tester somewhere…
    I have lots of vinegars and flavors, but don’t need them all a d want to share.

    Also, does the mother lose strength over time? My lastest batch is taking a while to ferment.

    Thanks so much!

    1. You can dilute them with tap water, it won’t affect subsequent fermentation. I would recommend not diluting the raw vinegar and mother you give away. Keeping it at full strength makes their own fermentations go faster and prevents mold growth.

      If you are using pH as a guide for dilution I would not hand out any raw vinegar with a pH higher than 3.5.

      Mothers don’t typically lose strength over time. A long fermenting batch may mean not enough nutrients (doubtful with kombucha but add a few ounces of sweet tea or wine to kickstart it) or just a slower fermenting strain of bacteria. Also, check the pH. Sometimes the smell can be deceiving and less pungent than typical for the acidity.

  6. Hi.

    If the pH Level is 3.33 and the titratable acidity is 9%, does that mean the vinegar is extremely acidic?

    1. 9% acidity is very acidic. The most acidic wine vinegars are typically only 7% max. On the other hand, 3.33 is a rather high pH for that much acidity. What type of vinegar are you making? I would expect a pH of 2.4 to 2.7. For use, dilute with 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water to get about 6% acidity.

  7. Hello, I purchased a drum of 12% vinegar, can I dilute it to be used in regular household applications such as cleaning or in sauces (to consume etc.) ? Woud I dilute with regular drinking water or distilled water?

    Thank you,

    1. Yes, if you want to dilute it to regular strength vinegar you can just add regular drinking water (no need for distilled) to get it down to 5% which is standard acidity (1.2 parts water to 1 part vinegar just to give you margin for error). If you want to make it easy, 6% is fine too and you can dilute 1 part vinegar with 1 part water. Then it can be used in household applications or sauces, etc.

  8. Mr. Smith, how much vinegar would need to be added to one liter of water at a pH level of 14 to reduce the pH to a level of 9, please?

    1. This is a harder question that it seems. You first need to specify the strength of the vinegar (i.e. 5%) and the type (like white distilled). White distilled is the easiest since it is close to pure acetic acid. Review the equations in the post and you can derive that pH (which is log_10 [H30+]) can be solved by

      pH = -(1/2)*log_10 (Ka*[CH3COOH])

      The level of [H30+] already in the water is 10^(-14). To be honest this is small so just neglect it.

      The concentration of acetic acid in moles in the water + vinegar is calculated by (vinegar acidity*volume in L vinegar added*10)/(1L water + volume of vinegar added in L)

      So solve [CH3COOH] in the equation above assuming a pH of 9 and then use this to calculate the volume of vinegar you need to add.

    2. LOL. If something is pH 14, it isn’t water. It’s Bleach. Or along those lines.

      Also @ OP, “vinegar of the same pH with wildly different acidity”, uh, wtf are you talking about…? 🤣 pH is literally the definition of acidic or basic. Do you mean CONCENTRATION? Yay blog science.

      (NOT alkaline, ≠. Alkalinity only refers to the ability of a substance to neutralize an acid. That’s is. Technically “alkaline” acids exist. FYI whoever, not referring to this article.)

      1. 1. The original comment asked about water of pH 14. Sure it definitely has something in it but I just was showing him how to calculate the volume of vinegar to lower pH.

        2. Acidity, defined as dissolved grams of acetic acid per 100mL of H20, is the definition of acidity in the global vinegar industry and wine/vinegar related food chemistry and what the regulations are based on from the US to the EU to Japan to South Africa. It is a concentration metric but the naming is not my own. pH is the definition of the essential nature of acidity by H+ dissociation but pH is not consistent across vinegars with the same acetic acid content for reasons mentioned in the article.

        Consistent chemical action and antimicrobial properties are only guaranteed by acidity as measured by titration, not pH. It is a concentration metric but pH and acidity are very cleanly delineated and cannot be confused when discussing wine or vinegar. It is the same with wine. Wine labs test for tartaric and acetic acid in “titratable acidity (TA)” testing which is basically NaOH titration.

        Vinegar companies get fined for missing acidity guidelines, not pH ones. Unlike acidified or canned food, there is no pH standard for vinegars. Next time you are at a grocery store, or even in your pantry, look at the label of a vinegar (especially white or wine) and note “diluted with water to X% acidity”. This is a FDA required statement and how the term is used in reference to vinegar.

        More detail in the abstract, content of this article

  9. Hi, I’m from Canada originally and my mum used pickling vinegar 7% acidity to can with. I now live in Kentucky and found a vinegar with 6%, which is better than plain white vinegar; but would refer the 7%. Is there any way to bring the 6% I can buy up to the 7% acidity I want? Thanks so much! Luanne

    1. Hi, the easiest thing would be to add concentrated vinegar to raise the acidity.You can buy the German 25% acidity vinegar Essig Essenz on Amazon. One 13 oz bottle should be able to get you 2 gallons of 7% vinegar. Mix 120 ounces (15 cups) of 6% vinegar with 6.5 oz of Essig Essenz to get 1 gallon 7% vinegar.

      CAUTION: Use gloves and safety goggles when handling concentrated vinegar like Essig Essenz, it will burn hard if it touches your eyes or skin.

  10. Hi, I made a honey vinegar in a factory and I measured its acidity. Unfortunately, its acidity is 1.33 % and I know its too low. I need to increase the acidity until 5.5%. Also, it is really important for me to make organic honey vinegar. Please help me to find a way for making it.

    1. Hi, I would need a lot more information to determine the issue. If you are fermenting it slow and it has not been fermenting for a long time, it could just be slow progress in the fermentation. As far as organic, you need to use organic honey as a starter and approved sanitizing chemicals per your local organic authority.

    1. I am sorry, I am not pickling expert but I know you should use at least 5% vinegar. I would recommend a fermentation blog like

  11. Hello Reginald. If I want to dilute distilled white vinegar (5% acidity, pH = 2.6) with distilled water to get a pH of 4.6, what would the ratio of water to vinegar be? I was thinking 100:1 as 10^(4.6-2.6) = 100, but I read that distilled water absorbs CO2 and has a pH of 5.8 (not 7.0), so I’m guessing that the amount of distilled water needed is actually less than 100:1. Thanks

    1. Hi, the amount for dilution is actually much more than that. Here is how you figure it out:

      First, calculate the [H3O+] concentration for ph 4.6 which is 10^-4.6. Then since this is your equilibrium [H30+] concentration than based on the fact the molar amounts of [H30+] and [CH3COO-] are equal in equilibrium, use the Ka equation in the blog post to calculate the acetic acid concentration [CH3COOH]. Since 5% vinegar is 0.83M divide 0.83 by this new acetic acid concentration and that is your dilution ratio.

  12. I am new to making red wine vinegar. I now have a an active mother in about a gallon of vinegar. I plan to give small bottles to friends as gifts. Just bought a package of PH strips. Used as directed, I came up with 5.4% acidity. That should be fine for dressings and cooking right?

    1. Hi, thanks for your post. Could you clarify about whether the pH strips guarantee a specific acidity? Usually pH strips are only good for pH. I can tell you for red wine vinegar you should usually be at a pH of 3 or less when it is done.

  13. Happy New year!
    I am just starting to learn about making vinegar (fascinating)and found your site while looking up what in the world a “mother” is! I am hoping to make white wine vinegar for a specific recipe that my family and friends really enjoy. Provided it tests to the proper acidity level and I can make reasonable quantities, can I use it in making refrigerator pickles? (not water bath processed although the brine is heated to boiling before going in the jars) The recipe I would like to use it for is refrigerator pickled spicy sweet pepper rings? To be able to not only have grown the peppers and garlic but to also have made the vinegar would be wonderful. Appreciate any advice you have. Thank you for your wonderful site.

    1. Provided the vinegar hits 5% acidity you can definitely use it for pickling. You can’t rely on just pH though. You can use a wine acidity kit (though you need to use a lot of solution since vinegar acidity is higher than wine) or you can send it to a wine lab to test titrable acidity. 4% minimum for general use, 5% for pickling.

  14. I am working on a cookbook as a fund raising for our church. Many of the pickling recipes call for 30% vinegar.
    How do I calculate how much vinegar to put in the recipe if I’m using 5% vinegar? If the european recipe calls for 2 tablespoons… do I multiply by 6 and put in 12 tablespoons of the 5% vinegar?
    Help !

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. First there are a few places to get 30% vinegar depending on where you are “Essig Essenz” is the German brand you can find on Amazon or Russian/Polish ethnic groceries often import 30% vinegar for their recipes.

      If you don’t have 30% vinegar, however, it is a bit tricky. You are right that 12 tablespoons of 5% vinegar has the same acetic acid as 2 tablespoons of 30% vinegar but the added water from the extra 10 tablespoons of vinegar may dilute the recipe. If you can reduce any previously added water to the recipe by 10 tablespoons and then add the 12 tablespoons of 5% vinegar you should get the exact same effect without over-diluting the meal.

      So in short, for whatever recipe requires 30% vinegar.
      1. Multiply the # of tablespoons of 30% vinegar by 5
      2. Replace this amount of any added water in the recipe with 5% vinegar

      Let me know if this helps.

  15. What has more acid content…White Vinegar or Distilled White Vinegar?

    Also, between the two…which is the better for use as a conductive material?

    1. The two typically have the same acidity of 4 or 5%. White usually means distilled white vinegar unless you mean sugar vinegar or another specialized vinegar. They are also called spirit vinegar. They both work the same as conductive materials having the same ion concentrations at the same acidity.

  16. I titrate my homemade wine Vinegar using .2Normal NaOH.

    The formulas I see are for .1M or N.

    (My understanding is that the unique case of NaOH is that N and M are equal.)

    What formula can I use to assess acidty for, say 5ml Vinegar in 100ml water or can you suggest a better formula for 5-25 ml Vinegar samples and .2N NaOH?

    I run into many, many sources or respondents who try to teach me that molar mathematics. Please, I just want to see comparative formulas that result in NaOH used x (this number) = %

    1. I use 0.5N NaOH and for 2.5mL of vinegar, it takes 4.1mL of 0.5N NaOH for 5% acidity.

      For 0.2N NaOH, for 5mL of vinegar in 100 mL of water it should take 20.5 mL to titrate 5% acidity vinegar or 4.1 mL per percent acid. Let me know if this helps.

  17. Thank you so much for this article. I’m doing a titrating lab for school where I’m determining the pH of various types of vinegars (red, black, pure white, balsamic, and apple cider) in order to determine which is the most basic and healthiest to consume. I found a procedure that says to dilute 1mL of the vinegar with 50mL of water, but I’m not sure if that would be enough acidity for the NaOH titrant to act on. I’m also not sure how to input the dilution into my calculations when determining pH. I considered using just the vinegar and not diluting it, but many of the vinegars have colour so I think it would be difficult to see a colour change from the indicator.
    Should I dilute the vinegar or not? Thank you!

    1. Hi Ms. Tse, thanks for your comment. I would dispute that more “basic” vinegars are better health wise but as the blog post states, different vinegars at the same acidity have different pH levels.

      First, titration measures acidity, not the pH scale. You can extrapolate a theoretical pH from tiration acidity measurements but more complex reactions will make the pH different than theory. Diluting the vinegar with water does not affect titration since though the acidity of the mixture is much lower, the total molecules of hydronium ions in solution is the same and it takes the same amount of NaOH (at the same strength) to titrate it regardless of how much you dilute it. So acidity can still be measured post-dilution without any correction.

      pH however does change with dilution and requires a correction. But again if you are titrating acidity should be the main concern. Does this answer your question?

  18. Two questions:
    1. If diluting 50 grain vinegar to 40 with water would raise the pH, is the reverse true — that adding vinegar concentrate to 50 grain, to get it, say, closer to 70 grain, would lower the pH? If so, how would you estimate the amount of the higher grain or concentrate needed to reach a desired pH level?
    2. Do you know of any source that markets high grain unfiltered apple cider vinegar or its concentrate?

    1. Yes, it is true that adding higher strength vinegar to lower strength vinegar lowers the pH. How much the pH is lowered depends on the volume of each vinegar (or water) mixed together

      2. I don’t know of any source of apple cider vinegar of higher strength than about 80 grain. Flesichmann’s Vinegar and Mizkan both sell that I believe.

  19. Hi Mr. How can i make different concentration of natural apple cider vinegar (5% acidity) for using as antibacterial test. do i have make the stock solution or use water (v/v)

    1. Hi, could you explain in detail what you are trying to do? Are you starting with 5% apple cider vinegar and diluting or are you fermenting from scratch?

      If starting with 5% apple cider vinegar you can dilute with water. The acidity is diluted in proportion to the water v/v added. so 1 part vinegar and X parts water gives 1/(X+1) times 5% acidity.

      If fermenting from scratch. The starting alcohol content at fermentation will determine the final acid content. Count on about 80% of the alcohol v/v going to acidity percent. Let me know if this helps.

  20. In Australia I use Cornwell’s Malt vinegar to pickle fresh chillies. I wish to know what its Grain value is likely to be.

    1. There doesn’t seem to be much out there on Cornwell’s Malt Vinegar acidity but based on information from their white and apple cider vinegars I am thinking a good guess is 4% acidity. That would be 40 grain by US standards or 16 grain by UK standards.

  21. I would like to use white disstilled white vinegar to rub on my legs and feet when they ache from being on them for long hours. What acidity should I buy or does it matter? Is the white distilled vinegar the right one to use to help aching feet? If not let me know what is best for aching legs and feet

    1. I would cut the 5% store bought vinegar with one part vinegar and one part water. The acid should still do its job but won’t sting as bad if you have cuts, etc. Let me know if this helps.

  22. Hello,
    I made a batch of apple cider vinegar last fall and fermented it for 4 months. I can tell it is very strong, and want to dilute it to the usual 5-7% range for vinegar. Is there a way to tell it’s strength by measuring the pH? Or is the only really way to tell having a lab test it, or buying expensive equipment? Thanks!

    1. There is no accurate and reliable conversion from pH to acidity except maybe for plain distilled white vinegar. It would be best to send it to a wine lab that can do a titratable acidity (TA) test for you to get the acidity.

  23. Oh my gosh. Love everything about your article and your answers. I am making goat cheese. The recipe calls for white vinegar which I get is 4%. For variety of flavor I want to try using a blackberry shrub which is advertised as “drinking vinegar” Do you know what the acidity is for shrubs? And since the recipe calls for 1/3 c lemon juice and 2 tablespoons vinegar, can you use more vinegar and less citrus or vice verse and still achieve the same result? Thank you!

    1. Hi, I don’t know too much about shrubs honestly but it seems like the vinegar is only diluted by some juice or water to around 2-3% acidity. What I would do is to use 50% more shrub at 3 tablespoons and reduce the lemon juice 1/3 cup by 1 tablespoon. You may have to experiment to make it work but the acid content should come out right.

  24. hi! your article was very interesting and you obviously have a lot of knowledge about the subject. I am a chemistry student and at the moment we have to find the concentration of acetic acid in 8% white vinegar do you have another article talking about titration calculations and why are accurate percentages of acid in vinegar important? thanks! 🙂

    1. There are a couple good links on titrations for weak acids which apply to vinegar. Try this.

      Note each mole of NaOH neutralizes one mole of acetic acid.

  25. Hi! Cool article, I pretend to know abouT organic chemistry, but deep down I hate formulas and math, and wish nothing more to have a robot companion to does all the hard maths, so I’m stuck to the part I can surmize-

    Anyways.. I was wonder what you think about fermenting vinegar (second ferment) to be used as a cleaning agent..

    The idea here is that bleach kills off all* germs- *but leaves behind the resistant ones, which then easily get a foot hold, and ipso facto cause prpblems..
    The latest science (ironic that we wouldn’t be here without bacteria) says that it’s best to cultivate a prpbiotic environment, obviously this is obvious, after studying how antipathogenic enzymes/whatever are always present during the symbiosis that happens with commensurate microbes in certain environments..

    I do ju jitsu, we use mats and physical contact (thus the spread of a communal microbiome, fyi), with antibiotic res I stance becoming worse coupled with stronger pathogens spurred by climate change,
    I stumbled upon nitro so monastery eutrophae, which is a bacterium in a family of “cleaner” bacterias.. it eats ammonia and is used in waste management, but also is cultivated on our skin, and provides an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, property as well as drawing away ammonia from injures.. this bacteria is foil I’m the soil and on walls and skin, but is easily washed away with one application of a modern shower. It takes a month for the bacterium to recolonize the skin. It’s why you see animals roll in the dirt (plus the cooling effect)
    Supposedly it can be added to Nanosilver solution (common, I believe).
    Essential oils have antiviral properties, and are added to prpbiotic vinegar cleaners,
    They seem to have therapeutic affects on chemo patients, like stopping their fingernails from falling out.. definitely something going on with macrophages.

    Do you think probiotic vinegar can replace bleach as a cleaner? What about high concentrations of bleach? Do you think the prpbiotic effect would be destroyed from a higher concentration?

    How do I convince someone that fermented vinegar can be used to clear and safeguard a public space

    Is there any insights or novel approaches, or suggestions about how all of these could be utilized to be a better approach to sanitation than bleach?

    Any insights on how vinegar and a bacteria that eats ammonia would get along?

    If any of this peaks your interest, I can share links

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment. I am not knowledgeable about bacteria that metabolize ammonia but I can summarize thoughts about vinegar as a disinfectant. Vinegar at typical strength (5%) works well against almost all bacteria (except acetic acid and lactic acid bacteria which are harmless) but you need to let it sit for a while, at least 10 minutes, to be effective. This is why vinegar does not spoil if kept properly. However, vinegar does not work effectively against many viruses. Vinegar is probably best as a cleaner in the home setting. For health care, schools, etc. where flu and other viruses need to be taken care of, bleach or other chemical disinfectants are a better bet.

      As far as probiotic, this is a term used for bacteria on or within an organism. Probiotic cleaning agents aren’t something I am familiar with. I would not say raw vinegar is a better cleaner than pasteurized distilled vinegar. If you are interested in my thoughts on vinegar as a probiotic see this post.

      There is actually an article comparing household and chemical disinfectants at this link. Vinegar works well against bacteria except Staph in 5 minute periods but isn’t really effective against viruses. Another recent report confirmed vinegar’s effectiveness and disagreed with the previous report saying apple cider vinegar is effective against staph (link).

  26. Correction: Do you think probiotic vinegar can replace bleach as a cleaner? What about higher concentrations of *vinegar*?

  27. Thanks for being such an approachable resource on vinegar. As I am unfortunately somewhat challenged in both chemistry and math:
    Could you please help me understand in culinary applications how to adjust the flavor impact of 7% acidity wine vinegar to a more standard 6% profile? Would you simply use about 15% less vinegar? Many thanks for your help with this.

    1. Hi Mr. Richards, to convert 7% acidity to a 6% profile you need to dilute with water. Combine 6 parts 7% vinegar and 1 part water to get 6% vinegar.

  28. Hi, i really liked your article! Could you tell me how we can prove that vinegar’s pH is 2.3 if it’s concentration is 9%? Dissociation level of alfa is 2.47… I would be really greatful for your help.

    1. Hi, thanks for your email. Proving that a vinegar has a pH of 2.3 if it is over 9% concentration is not completely clear. If you have just white vinegar you can calculate the pH for 9% acidity but it is lower than 2.3. Is that your question?

  29. Hi, We want to grow vegetables organically by using compost. The pH of the soil ranges from 7.5 to 8.5. Do you think the pH of the soil can be reduced by adding vinegar to the same organic compost? If so how much vinegar should I use for one kg of compost?.
    Thanking you.

    1. Hi Ali, yes vinegar can reduce the pH of the compost for you. The amount of vinegar to add though is something you have to determine by trial and error. I would get a kg of compost and pour in 50 mL of 5% vinegar, allow it to saturate the compost, and then measure the pH. Once you know the volume of vinegar to get the pH you want, you can scale up from there. Given the complex chemistry of soil, unfortunately there is not a good theoretical value I can help you with. Let me know how it turns out.

  30. I am using 45% vinegar 450grain as printed on gallon for spraying weeds. I did a small taste test compared to regular 5% vinegar. The 45% has a very mild taste compared to the 5% ,I thought the 45% would have more pucker power taste??

    1. Please don’t taste 45% vinegar. It is extremely caustic and even if it doesn’t burn your mouth, it will certainly burn your throat. A small amount is probably rapidly diluted in your mouth. Use gloves, goggles, and full body clothing when using.

  31. I am not a chemist. So the question is simple, for which you may answer yes or no. Given a volume of white vinegar, would adding TEN volumes of distilled water to the ONE volume of white vinegar produce a pH ONE log number higher, eg 2.4pH up to 3.4pH?

  32. Your description of esterification solved the mystery of why my cranberry vinegar ended up less tart than the cranberries I started with, but also had a really pleasant floral smell. Is there any way to restrain the esterification process, perhaps by speeding up the secondary fermentation with an air pump?

    1. Hi, esterification will happen regardless unless you allow fermentation to proceed until absolutely all alcohol is removed from the vinegar. Using an air pump isn’t always as effective as many claim unless you are circulating the vinegar over a substrate like wood shavings or zeolite. If you don’t want esterification than you need to measure the residual alcohol and allow the vinegar fermentation to proceed to the point it is all gone. I am not sure why you want to stop esterification though since it improves the vinegar’s flavor. Most people want to speed it up.

  33. Good morning Reginald, this is an incredible blog – very nice work! I hope you can help me with the following. I made 5 gal of dry honey mead (abv @ 14.6%). Then I sadly let the bubble airlock go dry before I could bottle. This was 18 months ago. Nothing has grown in the liquid and it’s still clear (just a bit darker). I think I made vinegar but how do I find out? I think from reading your comments and responses, I need to test both the ph and acidity but what else do I need to be sure it’s vinegar and safe to consume. The reason I’m asking is that I have a 5 gal. – oak bourbon barrel that I’d like to age the vinegar in it (if in fact, it turns out to be vinegar). If I need to send the liquid to a lab for analysis, can you recommend one or is that something a local wine shop may help me with. Thank you for your comments.

    1. Hi Michael, if the wine is 14.6% ABV and has not lost alcohol through the airlock, I doubt it is vinegar since that is way too high for vinegar fermentation to operate effectively in. Less than 10% ABV is the usual requirement for vinegar fermentation to happen. Also, if you have not seen a mother or a film, it is likely not undergoing acetic acid fermentation. Other processes may be at work. If you have a question, a wine lab test for titratable acidity is the best option unless you want to use a wine acidity kit. For a wine acidity kit, combine 9 parts water and 1 part mead and then multiply the result from the kit times 10.

  34. Pingback: Apple Scrap Vinegar – The Urban Nanna

  35. Hello – thank you for all the great resources.

    I’ve titrated our vinegar – with a PH of 3.13 to a .84 molarity (21ml of .2 sodium Hydrox) – is there a simple calculation to determine percentage of acidity?

  36. Suppose vinegar is 100% acetic acid. Its ph is around 4.76.

    If diluted to 5% acetic acid, which is the concentration of acetic acid in vinegar, the ph is 2,4. So diluting with water lowers the ph, making it more than 100 times more acidic. How can it be?

    1. Two things:

      1) Acidity is measured by the concentration of H+ ions from acid in water. If you are trying to measure pH on 100% glacial acetic acid, you will not get valid results since there is no water for the ions to dissociate in

      2) Once you add water (mix very carefully, look up chemical mixing safety instructions online) the pH will plummet and will likely be below 2 until you get to 15-20% acidity or so.

      Let me know if this helps.

    1. Mainly because the resistance of vinegar to spoilage as well as it being used as an additive in sauces, canning, etc. relies on accurately knowing the acidity. Without knowing the acidity attempting to preserve food with vinegar can be dangerous as bacteria will quickly take over.

  37. For vinegar, leaving it open to atmosphere will allow fermentation to continue. As discussed here, if vinegar continues to ferment until all alcohol is consumed, the bacteria will begin to consume the acetic acid gradually weakening it until it is spoiled. Unused vinegar should always be stored in an airtight container.

  38. Hello fam. I made Apple cider vinegar and the acidity was 2.9%. What must I do to increase the acidity to 5%. Please help. Can’t wait to hear from you. Thank you so much.

    1. Add 5% hard cider to your batch in the exact volume as what you currently have (1:1 ratio). After fermentation you should hit near 5% acidity.

  39. Hello,
    Thank you for this blog! I find myself reading through all of the info and comments regularly.
    I’m make a few different types of vinegar and recently had them tested for acidity % and residual alcohol. They ranged from 3.5-4.1 acidity and the residual alcohol ranged from .22-.43%.
    Given these numbers I see that these vinegars will not reach 5% acidity. Is it possible to add more alcohol to increase the acidity?
    Also, my original gravity was around 1.07 which I felt would translate to the correct acidity %, in the future would it be better to start with a higher alcohol level? Or how do I prohibit high amounts of alcohol evaporation?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Yes, you can add alcohol to raise the acidity, that should work fine. The specific gravity of 1.07 should be more than enough to reach 5%.

      Two questions:

      1. What is the final specific gravity now? If not near 1, the yeast did not convert all the sugar to alcohol and that could explain the gap. Try using brewing yeast from the beginning and fermenting until specific gravity is 1 or less.

      2. Are there a lot of solids, pulp, or starch in your medium? That could raise the specific gravity higher than the actual sugar.

      One of these is likely the culprit unless a lot of evaporation is going on which can remove alcohol. Don’t go much higher than 1.07 on sugar since the resultant alcohol may be too high to easily make vinegar from.

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